Going into their Week 6 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, the Baltimore Ravens were not at all happy with their return game. Especially at the start of the second half of their win last Sunday over the Kansas City Chiefs, when rookie Deonte Thompson fumbled the opening return, giving the Chiefs optimal field position (which, as it turns out, is generally wasted on the Chiefs).
However, special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg saw enough positives on that play to forecast better days ahead.
"There were so many good things on that particular piece of video that we're going to reinforce the positive and correct the things that we need to correct and go to the next opportunity and look forward to a better result," Rosburg told the team's official website.
And as it turned out, Rosburg was right. With 11:42 left in the third quarter, receiver Jacoby Jones took a kickoff 8 yards in the end zone, and ran completely untouched into the other end zone.
The play tied the league record for return length. Mr. Jones passed by several Cowboys "defenders," none of whom seemed particularly interested in impeding his progress. One does not usually see such plays outside of flag football or 7-on-7 drills, and we're pretty sure the Dallas special teams coaching staff will have a few things to say to their reserves about that one.
Jones' return could be called the difference-maker in Baltimore's 31-29 win, but the Cowboys' inability to capitalize on a series of injuries to Baltimore's defense killed them in the end. The Ravens were without cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith for parts of the game, and linebacker Ray Lewis suffered a triceps injury. Dallas held the ball for over 40 minutes, gained 227 yards on the ground (the most allowed by the Ravens franchise since its inception in 1996), and allowed 481 total yards.
But in the end, a failed two-point conversion from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant late in the game, and an errant field goal try by Dallas kicker Dan Bailey with five minutes left in the game kept the Cowboys on the wrong side of the win column. Bryant, whose erratic play has marred his career to date, caught 13 passes on 15 targets for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
"They threw a lot of haymakers at us," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Our guys stepped up at the end and found a way to win the game."
As for Baltimore's special teams, nice job forecasting the future.
"We're confident that all the good blocks we're getting and all the good setups that we're getting are going to pay dividends as we go down the road," Rosburg said.
Next stop, Vegas.
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